I set an initial budget of $10,000 to build the shop – everything from studs and drywall to hand tools and machinery. The final number was over by $1,000, but I’m still very happy with the result. The shop is now my haven, with a good sound sys­tem and good lighting. Every time I go back into the shop, it is exactly the way I left it, because it is my shop!
For woodworking entertainment and inspiration be sure to checkout our Woodworking Video Series "The Highland Woodworker". Improve your woodworking skills and learn more about the use of woodworking tools with free online woodworking materials in the Woodworking Library. At Highland Woodworking you get more than fine woodworking tools...you get fine tool tips too!
Softwoods are often softer and more delicate woods in general, as the name would suggest, but aren’t necessarily always weaker than hardwoods. Although, they are generally less dense and not as durable as Hardwoods, which grow at a much slower rate than softwoods creating a denser and stronger grain in the wood. Softwoods come from coniferous (or gymnosperm) trees such as Cedar, Hemlock and Pine and lean towards a yellow to reddish tone by nature. Hardwoods come from angiosperm (seed producing) trees such as Oak, Cherry, Maple and Walnut and are generally darker toned woods. Softwoods tend to be less expensive than hardwoods, as they grow much more quickly and can be milled at a faster rate. While hardwoods are generally more expensive, the durability, strength and overall look is often worth the additional cost depending on your project needs.
Since I long ago lost the woodcarving tools I used to own as a youth, I figured I would focus on something larger. With my current ideas of doing a commercial greenhouse venture, I have considered making my first project one of a pergola for training plants up as a living shade-tent area. I have also considered trying to do an earth-sheltered greenhouse assuming I can figure out a loophole in city ordinances and/or coax the officials to sign off on it. I would love to do some hand-carved bowls and eventually make my own workbench and maybe even craft other things like a shaving horse. A foot-powered lathe is another one that I still find fascinating from the Foxfire books.

One purchase that did work out in my favor this year was a bandsaw. I found an old, built in 1946, 14" Delta bandsaw w/ riser block in good condition for a steal at $150. I had a couple months of free spend saved up, and my wife threw in the rest of the money and considered it my birthday gift. Attached to the saw's base was an old Stanley 77 dowel maker the seller gave me with the saw since it was attached to the base when he got the saw. I was able to sell it on ebay for just shy of $300. I actually made money on that deal, and the money from the sale has allowed me to buy blades and upgrades for the bandsaw, as well as the parts and materials I need to build the router table I'm in the process of building. Was nice to get that - otherwise it would be months before I'd be able to purchase some of those things!

Another example is lathe tooling or metal gravers which are routinely polished on fine agate stones and these don’t chip or roll an edge unless abused. These are one of the times where a jig is a requirement for reproducible results and a couple degrees off the recommended angle can make a difference. For a wood work, a couple degrees either way won’t really be noticed.


For many tasks you may not gain much benefit from going above 4-500 grit but polishing your axe to 0.33 micron certainly won’t affect edge retention. For finishing work, you certainly do want as well polished of an edge as possible since that means less scraping or sanding. A well honed plane can leave a surface that’s actually too smooth for painting.

Over a year ago, I wrote up a round-up of three woodworking resources Learn To Build Your Own Furniture With These Impressive Carpentry & Woodworking Resources Learn To Build Your Own Furniture With These Impressive Carpentry & Woodworking Resources Few things are as satisfying and relaxing as making something new with your own hands. Programming comes close, at least for me (and I've recently offered some tips on learning to code), but it's still... Read More which included talented YouTube woodworkers Matthias Wandel, Steve Ramsey, and Marc Spagnuolo, AKA The Wood Whisperer. All three still produce wonderful work — and today I’d like to introduce you to five other YouTube woodworking channels worth following.
Let’s start with perhaps the most basic tool in every household – the claw hammer. The claw on one side of the head should be well counterbalanced by the finished head, which should be somewhat rounded. The other kind of head is the waffle-head. Most commonly used in construction, it leaves a distinctive waffle mark on the wood when you drive the nail. This, of course, is not the proper nail for woodworking.
These YouTube videos provide great woodworking information that contains both traditional and modern methods. Each instructional video contains woodworking how to techniques to improve a woodworkers’ skills and also methods for how to work safe in the shop. If you want entertainment, then watch the video once. If you want learn, watch the again. If you want to master techniques and improve your woodworking skills, watch and study the videos repeatedly.

As Chief Creative Officer and Founding Partner at Brit + Co, Anjelika Temple brings her voracious consumption of all things creative and colorful to DIY projects, geeky gadgetry finds and more. When she's not DIY-ing her heart out, you'll find her throwing dinner parties with friends or adventuring with her husband David, their daughter Anokhi, and their silly dog Turkey.
Just how small?  Will you have an extra bedroom for your shop or will you be doing woodworking in your living room?  Do you have to put the projects and tools away every time you want to entertain or will you leave everything set up all the time?  A while back FWW had a video tour of a shop in Japan that was smaller than small.  I'll try to find it and get back.  Found it...  shows what can be done in a small space but this shop was not on a small budget so no help there.
We made the decision for my wife to be a stay at home mom - it was a decision we both felt was a good one before we ever even discussed it. Being a single income family does sometimes have financial drawbacks, but the blessings of my wife being a stay at home mom are blessings that money can't buy. Eventually, when our son (and any future children we may have) are in grade school, my wife will look at finding a job. She's also looking at the possibility of starting to do in-home daycare for 2 or 3 children in our home, which would bring in some extra money.
There are some basic things every woodworker needs to get started. Assuming you aren't the kind of person that does everything with hand tools, you'll first need a drill. Power drills come in many different styles and price ranges. The popular trend right now is for companies to make cordless tool systems that all run off of the same battery packs, and a drill is often the first tool a person gets in the set. Cordless drills are popular and handy for doing household tasks , such as hanging picture frames; but for serious woodworking, they can lack power and might die in the middle of a job. Corded drills are a less expensive option and often work better for the tasks you'll be doing in a wood shop; just get a cheap extension cord to go with it. You can easily find a corded drill of good quality for about $100.
One of the best deals on portable power tools, including routers and sometimes planers, comes in the form of factory-reconditioned tools. These are primarily tools that have been repaired at the factory after failing quality inspections or being returned by customers. While they cannot be sold as new, they are identical to new tools in quality and appearance and usually feature the same warranty (be sure to check). Typical savings are anywhere from 15% to 30%, though you sometimes can find even bigger bargains. These tools can be found at Amazon.com and other online tool sellers. It is also possible to buy them through retail stores and, in some cases, directly from the manufacturer’s Web site.
We've written about routers on the site before and my favorite is the Bosch 1617​.  It is light enough that you can control it when using it handheld, yet powerful enough that it won't have any problems when you mount it under a table.  On top of that, it comes with a plunge base which makes it significantly easier to use handheld.  The package clocks in at ~$190.
For woodworking entertainment and inspiration be sure to checkout our Woodworking Video Series "The Highland Woodworker". Improve your woodworking skills and learn more about the use of woodworking tools with free online woodworking materials in the Woodworking Library. At Highland Woodworking you get more than fine woodworking tools...you get fine tool tips too!
Pocket holes may get a bad rap from “fine” woodworkers, but they are the most accessible and versatile form of joinery for any woodworker. You will find tons of pocket holes in the highest end custom cabinetry kitchens, so I don’t hesitate to use them when needed. They are great for quick DIY furniture projects like my pub table here. I actually own bow the low and medium budget options below because they both have their place in my shop and I can choose which to use depending on the application. If you’re not sure what size pocket hole screws you will need to start out with, here is the variety pack that I first purchased.
These YouTube videos provide great woodworking information that contains both traditional and modern methods. Each instructional video contains woodworking how to techniques to improve a woodworkers’ skills and also methods for how to work safe in the shop. If you want entertainment, then watch the video once. If you want learn, watch the again. If you want to master techniques and improve your woodworking skills, watch and study the videos repeatedly.
Well there it is, my top 5 list of the best beginner woodworking tools. Let me know your thoughts or some of your favorite tools for each category. Of course this isn’t an all-encompassing list, there are all of the little extras like tape measure, square, clamps, glue, etc. To see what I use for all of these options check out the complete list of tools from my shop.

The thickness planer can joint a board's face. On this simple jig, the stock is supported by twin rows of wood screws driven into a platform and adjusted to meet the varying clearances on the underside of the board. The stock rides the sled cup side up. Slide the board slightly sideways to adjust the screws, then seat it firmly on the screw heads for planing.
I went out and bought a dovetail pull saw for some of the finer cuts that I needed to make. I’m sure I’ve used this a few times on previous blog posts. It is great for the smaller cuts, and I’ve even used it to cut some larger pieces when my bigger saw didn’t fit. The combination of the dovetail pull saw and the push saw works fine, and isn’t too terribly expensive, but I’ve found something even cheaper that works just as well.

As Chief Creative Officer and Founding Partner at Brit + Co, Anjelika Temple brings her voracious consumption of all things creative and colorful to DIY projects, geeky gadgetry finds and more. When she's not DIY-ing her heart out, you'll find her throwing dinner parties with friends or adventuring with her husband David, their daughter Anokhi, and their silly dog Turkey.
The next important hand tool for the woodworker is an accurate tape measure. Get a retractable one that is at least 25 feet long. Any longer than that, and you start having problems getting it to roll back up. Since measurements on large scale projects can be very susceptible to even the most minute measurement variations, you’ll want to make sure the “hook” or tab at the end of the is firmly attached, with no give. When they get loose, you’ll have as much as 1/8” variation in your measurements. This can add up to some severe accuracy problems in the long run.
Just a little nitpick on the tape measure blurb. The hook should not be completely tight. It should move in and out about a 1/16th or the thickness of the hook. This way you get an accurate measurement whether you hook a part to measure or bump up to it. If you want more accurate measurements with a tape measure, “burn” an inch instead of hooking or bumping the part. Just line up what you want to measure with the 1″ mark and subtract that inch from the final measurement.

If you'd like to learn more about the differences between hardwood species, I can think of no better resource than R. Bruce Hoadley's 1980 masterpiece, Understanding Wood: A Craftsman's Guide to Wood Technology. Not only does Hoadley detail nearly every species used for woodworking, he does an exceptional job at describing how to prepare, work with and finish these hardwoods. This is an industry-standard resource, one that I'd highly recommend to every woodworker.
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